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The 20 BEST Fat-Burning Cardio Exercises for 2020! πŸ”₯

Matt Skeffington

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Dec 16 16 minutes read

2020 is your year!

It's time to get into the best shape of your life, lose that extra weight, and feel your best!

And we are here to get you started!

We have created a complete guide to the 20 BEST cardio exercises! πŸ”₯πŸ’ͺ

These exercises are hand picked to deliver the most bang-for-your buck and are guaranteed to: 

  • Elevate your heart-rate

  • Burn calories

  • Shred fat

  • Improve your cardio and overall fitness

  • Increase your strength

  • Help you feel your BEST in 2020!

We have included a step-by-step coaching guide on how to perform each movement as well as a beginners guide to each movement if you're just getting started in 2020!

BONUS: We have also included 3 sample cardio workouts to get you rocking at the bottom of this article!

LET'S ROCK 2020! 

1| Med Ball Slams

One of our favorite forms of cardio is medicine ball work. 

They make any workout fun and challenging, plus offer some great variety!

They work well with all of our members, especially members who come to us with some kind of joint pain. 

We like these especially for our members with lower-body and/or low-back issues. 

Get some aggression out and get ready to sweat!

Key Points:

  • Get as tall as possible and reach ball high overhead without leaning back

  • Slam ball down right in front of feet

  • Finish slam in low squat position

  • Catch and repeat as fast as possible

  • Start with :30 of work followed by :30 of rest for 6-10 rounds.

2| Skierg

We are very fortunate here at Dynamic to have some of the most state-of-the-art fitness equipment. One of our favorite pieces of cardio equipment is the Skierg. 

If you've ever been cross-country skiing, you know how good of a workout it can be.

Now envision cross-country sprinting! 

These get your heart rate way up and challenge your entire body, especially your arms. As a bonus, these are incredibly FUN!

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet hip width apart and hands on handles

  • In one motion, pull the handles down and back as you sit back into athletic position

  • Finish with hands behind your hips and chest tall

  • Reset to standing position with hands overhead

  • Start with :30 of work with :30 of rest for 6-10 rounds

3| Sled March

The sled march is an absolute favorite amongst our members here at Dynamic. They are great for building an incredibly strong lower-body and core. 

Sled marches are a fantastic fat shredding cardio tool as they get your heart-rate up and burn some serious calories. Load these up HEAVY! You'll be surprised how much weight you can push! 

Key Points:

  • Keep arms straight and keep a straight line from head to back foot

  • Keep body leaning at 45 degree angle

  • March forward one step at a time keeping head and upper body still

  • Push through your mid-foot

  • Start with 3-5 rounds of 15-25yd march

4| Sled Sprints

There is no better exercise than sprinting for getting your heart-rate up and burning fat. 

Now sprint with a weighted sled. Talk about one of the best exercises!

Key Points:

  • If new, do not fully sprint

  • Keep weight light on sled (10-45lbs)

  • Keep arms straight and body at 45 degree lean

  • Run sled as fast as you can

  • Start with 5-10 rounds of 20-25 yard sprints followed by :45-1:00 rest

5| Versaclimber

We've nicknamed the Versaclimbers our "Unicorns" because they are so rare.

These are also a favorite here at DSC. 

They are another joint-friendly piece of cardio equipment that are awesome for your legs.

The great thing about the Versaclimber is their versatility!

You can lower the resistance, allowing you to sprint and really get your heart-rate up.

You can also crank the resistance up, making these one heck of a leg workout.

Key Points:

  • For more of a sprint workout, keep resistance low

  • For more a of strength workout, keep resistance high

  • Step into foot pedal straps and grab handles

  • Alternate pushing down with one foot to get climber moving

  • Keep motion small and sharp and core tight

  • Start with :30 of work followed by :30 of rest for 6-10 rounds

6| Wall Ball

Think of wall ball as the reverse med ball slam. 

These are a bit tougher as you are forced to use your lower body, core and arms to catch the ball, squat, and get the ball as high as possible. 

Key Points:

  • Start feet shoulder width apart, medicine ball at chest
  • Drop into squat, keeping chest tall
  • Use your legs to drive up out of squat
  • In one motion, throw ball as high as possible
  • Ball should touch wall
  • Catch and repeat as fast as possible
  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 rounds

7| Battling Ropes

Battling ropes might be our member's favorite cardio exercises. 

They are especially great for anyone with lower-body or back pain as all of the work is done through the arms, shoulders and core. 

Not only are they tough but they are a lot of fun! 

These are great for getting that heart-rate up and building some great looking arms!

Key Points:

  • Stay in a low, athletic position throughout

  • Using just your arms, make quick and even waves with the ropes

  • Keep the ropes moving together or alternate arms

  • Start with :15 of work :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

8| Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are a staple for many of our members. 

The dynamic, fast paced motion makes the swing a great exercise for getting your heart-rate up and burning calories. 

Prepare to sweat!

The majority of the work comes from your hips, hamstrings and glutes making the swing a great choice for individuals with bad knees, feet and ankles. 

The hamstrings and glutes are two of the most important stabilizers of the knee so strengthening these two muscles is a must for improving knee pain. 

Key Points:

  • Make sure all the work is done through your hips

  • Keep posture strong and tall throughout

  • At the top position, finish tall with glutes squeezed and legs straight

  • Start with 8-10 swings followed by :30-:45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

9| Plyo and Sprinter Reverse Lunges

The plyo reverse lunge is your normal lunge on steroids. 

These are tough and really work the strength and endurance of your legs while getting your heart-rate elevated. 

The dynamic nature of the movement makes these also great for overall athleticism, coordination and balance. 

Key Points:

  • If new start with the low impact sprinter reverse lunge

  • Start tall with feet together

  • Step back with one leg and drop into low lunge position

  • Do not let front knee travel over front toe

  • As you come up, drive into ground with front foot

  • Drive back knee up and hop with front foot

  • Reset and start again

  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 rounds/leg

10| Curved Treadmill (walk, run, or sprint)

One the best equipment investments we have made has been our curved, self-propelled treadmills. 

They actually do not have a motor, therefore similar to running on the road, you have to be the one to move the belt. 

The difference between our treadmills and traditional running or treadmill running is the curve feature in the front of the treadmill where your foot strikes. 

This actually dampens the impact forces, making these much more joint friendly for our members with bad feet, ankles and knees. We have even had people run on our treadmills who have not run in years because of pain. 

They are also great for those with elbow or shoulder issues. The low impact allows our members to do one of the world's greatest cardio exercises -- SPRINTING! 

Key Points:

  • Stay tall throughout

  • Try to stay to front of treadmill

  • Keep hands on railings if needed

  • Focus on getting knees up

  • Start with :15 sprint, jog or fast paced walk followed by :45 walk for 6-10 rounds.

11| Airdyne Sprints

Bike sprints are the ultimate joint-friendly cardio exercise. 

They allow our members with aches and pains to train at a very high intensity, while keeping the stress off their injuries. 

They are great for bad backs, shoulders and knees. 

Sprints are also more fun and burn more calories than traditional low intensity, long duration bike rides. These are tough!

Key Points:

  • Set seat height of bike so there is a minimal knee bend when pedal is all the way down

  • Keep bike resistance minimal if on spin bike

  • Start with a 5 minute warm-up at medium intensity

  • Complete 6-10 rounds of :15 sprint followed by :45 rest

12| Burpee and Elevated Burpee

The burpee is one of the most popular fat-burning, cardio drills on the planet and rightfully so -- they are tough and tax the entire body. 

The tough thing about burpees is that they require a great deal of mobility. 

For many, getting down to the floor can be a problem and can cause pain. 

For our members who do not have the ability to complete the full burpee, we simply shorten the range-of-motion by having them go off a bench rather than all the way to the floor. Win, win!

Key Points:

  • If new, start with the elevated burpee

  • Start tall with feet under hips

  • Bend from the waist and bring hands to floor

  • Keeping weight in hands, kick feet back to plank position

  • Add push-up if possible

  • Do not let hips sag when kicking legs out

  • Bring feet back in, stand up, and jump

  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

13| Kettlebell Head-Cutter

The head-cutter might be our favorite total-body cardio and strength exercise. 

It taxes your shoulders, legs, and abs, while burning some serious calories and getting your heart-rate sky high. 

You will LOVE these!

Key Points:

  • Start feet shoulder width with KB between feet

  • Keeping chest tall, push hips back into deadlift position

  • Drive through heels to lift KB

  • As the KB comes up, pop it up and catch it at chest level

  • Drop into squat by sitting back and pushing knees out

  • As you come out of squat, press KB overheard

  • Start with 10 reps followed by 1:00 of rest for 6-10 rounds

14| Rower

Looking for a fantastic total-body cardio exercise? Enter the rowing machine.

These are great for burning fat as they work your entire body from your legs to your neck and burn a ton of calories. 

Key Points:

  • Start in seated position with knees bent and arms extended

  • Initiate movement by pushing through your feet and driving your body back

  • Finish movement with legs extended and arm handle pulled into chest

  • Think legs push, arms pull and keep it one smooth motion

  • Return to starting position by extending arms and bending knees

  • Start with :30 of rowing followed by :30 of rest for 6-10 rounds

15| Sandbag Clean and Squat

The sandbag is an AWESOME training tool. We can use them to build strength, balance, coordination and overall fitness. 

You can do just about every movement with them making them a must have for 2020!

The clean and squat challenges your entire body, helping you burn the most calories and really push your cardio!

Key Points:

  • Start feet shoulder width with toes pointed out slightly

  • Rest sandbag just in front of feet and grab handles

  • Bend knees and drive your chest tall

  • Push through feet and quickly bring sandbag to shoulders as you drive elbows up

  • Catch sandbag on shoulders, keep chest proud, and squat

  • Return to starting position

  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 4-8 rounds

16| Mountain Climbers and Elevated Mountain Climbers

We love mountain climbers for all of our members but they are especially great for members with bad knees and low backs. 

When done correctly, the plank position keeps the low back and spine in a good, neutral position. 

By keeping your weight in your hands, stress is not placed on the knees. 

But, we're going to kick up the regular mountain climbers a notch and add workout sliders (you can also use furniture movers on carpet or a towel on tile or hardwood).

Now we're really shredding fat and building muscle! 

Key Points:d

  • If new to the mountain climber, start with the elevated mountain climber with your hands on bench or table vs. the floor

  • Maintain a stable upper-body plank position throughout

  • Keep hands placed directly under shoulders and feet on sliders

  • Quickly bring one knee forward at a time, while keeping the back leg straight

  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

17| Mace Switch Squat

We love the steel mace at DSC!

Think of it as a kettlebell on a stick. The unique shape and how it's weighted on one side creates a real challenge and keeps your workouts fun. 

One of our favorite movements is the switch squat which challenges your cardio, strength, and coordination. 

Key Points: 

  • Start tall with feet shoulder width, and toes pointed slightly out
  • Start with mace just under chest level with underhand grip on mace head side, overhand grip on other hand
  • Think about pulling the mace into your chest
  • Hit a squat then transition to the opposite side
  • Start with :15 of work and :45 of rest for 4-5 rounds

18| Kettlebell Wideout Squats

One of our favorite conditioning or cardio exercises is the wideout squat. 

The fast pace and high tempo keeps our members heart rates up and burning calories. 

If you are new to the wideout squat, start with just your body-weight and incorporate the kettlebell when you're ready! 

These are TOUGH and really work your legs and cardio!

Key Points:

  • Start tall with legs straight and feet together

  • Keeping your arms straight, grab your kettlebell with an overhand grip

  • In one motion, quickly widen feet and drop into low squat position

  • Get as low as possible, keeping heels down and chest tall

  • Tap your kettlebell to the floor

  • Finish motion by quickly popping up to starting position

  • Start with 5 to 8 rounds of :20-:30 of work and :30-:40 of rest

19| Sled Pull + Push

You're going to LOVE these. 

Not only do they work your entire body, they are extremely great for improving your cardio, building strength, and shredding fat.

What we love most about them is that they are FUN!

Key Points:

  • Start in low athletic position with chest tall

  • Pull the sled in with a "hand over hand" motion

  • Once the sled comes all the way to you, march it back in to starting position

  • Rest 1:00 and repeat for 4-6 rounds

20| Sit Throughs

Ready to bring a little break dancing into your workouts? 

These are fun and tough. They require body control and strength but the fast paced motion make these one of our cardio favorites.

Key Points:

  • Start in a bear crawl position with hands under shoulders and knees bent under your hips

  • Keeping weight in right hand, rotate right leg underneath your body

  • Straighten right leg and drop butt to floor

  • You should finish with leg straight with belt buckle and right toe pointed to ceiling

  • Return to starting position and rotate to other side

  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 4-8 rounds

Now let's get into your workouts!

Here's how they work:

Chose a level, grab a stopwatch, and have some fun!

Level 1: You've been consistently exercising for the last 3-6+ months

You will complete each exercise for :40 and rest :20 between exercises. Complete 3-4 rounds. 

Level 2: You've been sporadically exercising for the past 3-6 months

You will complete each exercise for :30 and rest :30 between exercises. Complete 3-4 rounds. 

Level 3: You are new to exercising 

You will complete each exercise for :20 and rest :40 between exercises. Complete 3 rounds.

Make sure to complete a 5-10 warm-up before starting your workout.

Workout 1: Med Ball

Exercise 1: Med Ball Slam
Exercise 2: Med Ball Squat to Chest Pass
Exercise 3: Med Ball Wall Ball

Workout 2: Body-Weight

Exercise 1: Burpee
Exercise 2: Sit Through or Mountain Climber
Exercise 3: Plyo Reverse Lunge (one side at a time)

Workout 3: Kettlebell

Exercise 1: Kettlebell Swing
Exercise 2: Kettlebell Head-Cutter
Exercise 3: Kettlebell Wideout Squat

Workout 4: Mix

Exercise 1: Sled March
Exercise 2: Med Ball Slam
Exercise 3: Mace Switch Squat

Make 2020 your healthiest and happiest year ever!

Register before 12/31 and your first month is FREE!

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